Thursday, 13 August 2009

Moving on, growing up and memories

Well the time has finally come to redecorate the nursery. I was quite excited at the prospect of a bit of redesigning, but didn't realise until we emptied the room, just how sad it would make me feel as well! As I started taking things apart it brought back so many happy memories of those days just before Dan was born - setting up the nursery, and then after the birth, long hours sat in the sun, rocking my newborn. At the time it felt as though those days would last forever, but suddenly it is 6 years later - and time to grow up!

But I loved that nursery - the changing table was below that little shelf on the right. I had all the nappies and wipes and paraphernalia on that shelf, and there were clothes pegs glued to it with cuddly toys hanging from them for entertainment. The room faces south west so gets a lot of afternoon sunshine. I had mini glitter balls hung in the window and Dan would spend ages just lying in his cot, watching the reflections of light dancing across the ceiling. I had a rocking chair in there and would often sit there and doze myself.

But back to reality, and moving forward, not back. It hasn't been a nursery for over a year now as the boys share the larger room. It has been a playroom (or rather a dumping ground for too many toys). But Matthew starts school in a couple of weeks, and Dan goes into year 2, so space and a bit of responsibility are required. As the owner of the cabin bed, it makes sense for Dan to move into the smallest room, and he was a willing volunteer.
He was very keen to get started - how often do you get the chance to legitimately peel off wallpaper?
Two willing helpers in fact! As the border came off, it revealed my first attempt at decorating - a handpainted border! Replaced by the pretty Mamas and Papas Zoofari border when it appeared in the sale bin! Dan said he would have preferred the wavy pattern - maybe I should have saved my money! See that washing up bowl? I used it to soak the wallpaper and wash the glue residues off the wall. But at lunchtime the bowl disappeared.
By the time I found it, it was too late - they had 'borrowed' it to wash their bikes, and then Dad's car, along with all the neighbours children. Ooops. Dad was not impressed and had to go out and wash all the glue off the car.
But back to decorating. Dan wanted a red bedroom. Well he is manic at the best of times, so I wasn't keen to go with that idea. So suggested maybe a neutral theme with red accents, how about something nautical? He like that idea, and then I started to get ideas. A couple of coats of white paint later and I had a blank canvas.
Yeah, I got a bit carried away! Anyway, that is enough for today. I have a few finishing touches to add to the paintwork, then I can start on the soft furnishings!

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Allotment Booty!

Well we have been home for just over a week now, and I am beginning to catch up with the 'news'!
First job (apart from the mountain of washing) was to visit the allotment. I couldn't wait to see what had changed! I'd already been out to the greenhouse and found the tomatoes bearing masses of fruit and these little lemon ice cucumbers!
I took the tubtrug with me as i thought there may be a few broad beans left to pick, and I needed some potatoes for tea. This was only half of it - it was overflowing by the time I dragged it back to the car. It held potatoes,squash, carrots, broad beans, peas, onions and shallots. We had a delicious frittata for tea using home grown eggs with some french salami and shallots and squash from the allotment. Yummy!
I couldn't carry everything! Look at these beauties! The squashes had escaped onto my neighbours patch and into all the beds adjoining theirs! I had to pick them, although I now wonder if I shouldn't have left them. They have since been utilised into soups, casseroles and rissottos, and some given to friends! They are lovely - very sweet and tasty, much nicer than courgettes.
The growth on the plot is amazing - what a difference 2 weeks makes! I have runner beans and brassicas (not sure what yet, there appear to be at least two cabbages, several sprouts and some purple leaved things, probably purple sprouting broccoli)
Huge onions - pulled up the biggest ones and took them home to dry on the greenhouse staging.
I can't tell where my fruit patch and next doors weeds begin and end (although we have new neighbours now and they have been very busy clearing the weeds!) My marigolds look gorgeous!
I can't believe how much everything has grown!
The sweetcorn is the best I've ever grown - there are loads of cobs very nearly ripe! There is some lovely looking chard there too. Sadly the beetroots and radish have disappeared underneath the marauding squash.
Carrots and parsnips amongst the marigolds. Only a couple of carrots with very minor carrot fly damage.
The whole site is looking amazing - and to think we didn't think we would be able to grow anything but potatoes on it this year!

Monday, 10 August 2009

In and around Brittany - a few more pics!

As well as spending time at the farm, we also got out and about a little (only a little because of car problems, but we are keeping this a positive experience, right?) LOL
Anyway, Brittany is full of picturesque little villages - Locuon is a short walk up the road from Belle Vue. We found these pretty cottages down a little grassy track. They were deserted. There is so little employment in the area that this sight is becoming more and more common. I could have moved in straight away - the thought of the commute back to Leicestershire put me off a little!
Just round the corner from the cottages we came across this beautiful shrine to the Virgin Mary, built in an old quarry. Again a common sight around Brittany - we spotted another in the middle of a field while we were out riding but I didn't have my camera on me.
A short drive from the farm is the Nantes a Brest canal. Another historical monument - built for military purposes and completed just as military use was no longer required. It would be perfect for longboat holidays, but the road bridges have been built with just enough headroom for a kayak, so it sees very little use. But the paths are wide and even and lovely for walking and cycling. Good for pond dipping as well.
Around the coasts of Brittany are some beautiful beaches. We discovered the Quiberon peninsula and the little town of Saint Pierre on the eastern side. We spent a lovely day taking in the quaint architecture and soaking up the rays - soft white sand between the toes is a lovely feeling!
Excuse the pale legs - they did get a little browner! I just loved the look of lilac crocs, aqua toenails and pale sand! I had a lovely time, sat playing in the sand while the boys went rockpooling!

Monday, 3 August 2009

Belle Vue - Camping a la ferme in Brittany

I'm sorry I haven't posted for so long - what with craft fairs and holidays, I am only just beginning to see the light again! I have so much to tell, but want to start by telling you a bit about our holiday destination. We have just returned home from one of the best holidays I've ever had, and the boys would say was definitely their best holiday ever!

We travelled to Brittany, to a fabulous place called Belle Vue. Situated on the Locuon road, just south of Mellionnec, Belle Vue is owned by Tony and Kay Moss, an English couple, and their children. They try to live a self sufficient lifestyle by growing their own vegetables and meat (chickens, pork, beef, lamb and rabbit). In addition they provide holiday accomodation via an old breton farmhouse and grenier (converted barn I think), two static mobile homes, B&B, and traditional camping pitches.

However, Belle Vue is more than just somewhere to sleep and eat. It is in the centre of the beautiful Breton countryside, very green and lush (when it rains, it really rains, but when the sun shines it is glorious!) and surrounded by miles of quiet lanes and tracks. It is wonderful for children!
There is so much for them to do - but not a slot machine or computer game in sight. Mine spent all day, every day, swimming, playing ball games (boules, table tennis, swingball, badminton, table football), or just generally playing in the sandpit and wendy house.
Around the main house and the gites there are lawns and flower beds. Hardly any traffic passes (apart from the odd tractor!)
And visiting Belle Vue means socialising, not keeping to yourself (although you can do that as well!) Two or three times a week Kay and Tony rustle up a meal or barbeque and everyone gets together over a few bottles of vin rouge and cassis. The children play together and the adults can have a good old chinwag and a laugh. It also means that you don't have to cook every night! Food is always home grown - superb pork sausages, lamb or free range chicken from their own flocks!
Although the camping field is on a slope, don't be put off. There are pitches cut into the slope, all well spaced apart so you are unlikely to hear even your closest neighbours! Our huge vango diablo 900 fit very nicely on the pitch at the bottom of the field.

Horse riding is also available at very reasonable prices. What better way to explore the countryside than to lollop around the lanes on horseback? Or get rid of the children for an hour or so - the little ponies Branston and Ondine are very well behaved.
I haven't ridden for around 8 years, but this gentleman ensured I had a very pleasant ride!
If you ask Tony nicely, he may even let you (or the children!) have a go on the tractor!
Not forgetting the solar heated pool. It doesn't take much sunshine to entice the children into the water, and the poolside is a perfect suntrap if you don't fancy getting wet!The farmhouse and grenier from the poolside.
What a view to wake up to every morning!
Have a look at their website here: Belle Vue Farm